Birthday girl! Betty White plans to celebrate her birthday on January 17 with a small group of pals and a lot of good humor. “She still likes to drink, laugh and tell stories,” a friend of the soon-to-be 98-year-old television legend exclusively tells Closer Weekly in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now. “It will be at her home with her longtime friends and stepchildren. She’s still close with them and their children. They’ll order food in and have fun.”

Despite the passage of time, this former Golden Girl, who began her TV career way back in the late 1940s, remains in fine condition, albeit with typical aches and pains. “She doesn’t have any major health problems,” confides her friend. “She says she’s a little ‘creaky.’ Walking is a bit of an issue and she uses a walker at home, but she’s OK. And she’s still quick with a one-liner.” Betty’s main concession to age is that she’s become more choosy about reasons to leave the house. “She still gets job offers, but that part of her life is probably over,” admits the friend, who adds that even though she’s not working as much, Betty still insists on living full-time in the Brentwood home in L.A. she once shared with her late husband, Allen Ludden. “Everyone wants her to retire to [her vacation property in Carmel, California], but Hollywood is in her blood. She likes to be close to the action, even at her age.”

Betty White at the 2018 Emmy Awards
Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

The star quips that getting older “is better than the alternative!” She’s happy about her longevity, although she misses Allen and her many friends who have gone before her, including former co-stars Mary Tyler Moore and Valerie Harper. “She says, ‘Every day my world gets smaller,’” shares the friend. “So many people she knew and loved have passed. She’s hopeful that someday they’ll all be reunited. She’s not morbid about it, though, and definitely doesn’t dwell on it.”

Betty remains an early riser who begins her days around 6 a.m. She likes to work on a crossword puzzle or dip into a few chapters of whatever novel happens to be on her nightstand. An avid reader, she devours several books a month. “She also likes to watch the news, movies and anything about animals,” says the friend of this longtime supporter of animal welfare. “She is still active at the Los Angeles Zoo and several other animal charities. She wishes she could attend more of their events, but she does her best to support them. She gives generously of her own money; she says it feeds her soul.”

Remaining active and interested in life is her secret to her vibrant senior years. “I think that everybody should cultivate a passion. Don’t be afraid to really get hooked on something,” the star, who admits that staying excited about life outside the walls of her home is the key to staying youthful, once gushed to Today. “It’s your mental attitude. So many of us start dreading age,” she says. “Make the most of it.”

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